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. 2018 Jun;12(3):286-291.
doi: 10.1111/eip.12474. Epub 2017 Aug 23.

Early Intervention for Bipolar Disorder in Adolescents: A Psychosocial Perspective


Early Intervention for Bipolar Disorder in Adolescents: A Psychosocial Perspective

Claire McAulay et al. Early Interv Psychiatry. .


Aim: Early intervention in bipolar disorder (BD) has received increasing attention in recent years. The identification of risk factors has improved, but researchers continue to struggle to find an effective treatment once the illness has become established. The aetiology of BD and feasibility of early intervention present a challenge, making it difficult to decide who to target, as well as how.

Methods: This essay seeks to address the lack of guidance for managing patients with a possible emerging bipolar illness, by presenting a rough roadmap to psychological care. The psychological techniques currently showing the most potential for this challenging group are reviewed. Markers of risk and supplementary clinical targets, such as anxiety and sleep disruption, are also discussed.

Results: While research in this group remains in its infancy, various avenues of enquiry show promise, such as family-based approaches, CBT that targets features beyond the core illness, psychoeducation, and interventions that consider physical health. However, clearer pathways for establishing the course and stage of the illness are required to inform the intensity and type of treatment.

Conclusion: It is argued that treating early, indistinct symptoms of psychological distress, that may or may not signify prodromal BD, is valuable beyond its utility as an early intervention tool, as it has the capacity to improve help-seeking behaviour, quality of life and the likelihood of functional recovery in those who go on to develop the illness as adults.

Keywords: adolescence; bipolar disorder; early intervention; functional recovery; staging.

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